A memorial to honour the 78 soldiers from The Royal Anglian Regiment who have lost their lives since 1959 was unveiled earlier this month at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.
The memorial commemorates the sacrifice of soldiers from the East Anglian Regiments and The Royal Anglian Regiment who have died on duty and in conflicts including Aden, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The stories of the campaigns in which they died are told in The Royal Anglian Regiment Museum at Duxford, located a short walk from the memorial.
375 members of all 78 families travelled from as far afield as the United States, Australia and Fiji to attend the unveiling ceremony. Also in attendance was the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, who laid a wreath.
A wreath was also laid on behalf of the bereaved families by Mrs Margaret Yallop, whose brother Corporal Michael Boddy was killed in west Belfast in 1972. Mrs Yallop said:
I was very proud to lay the wreath on behalf of all the families. It has been a very emotional day and I am proud to be here. I felt that he was there with us.
The Colonel of the Regiment, General Sir John McColl, said:
Since the formation of the East Anglian Regiments in 1958 and The Royal Anglian Regiment in 1964, those that we have lost have been remembered in different ways and in different places. But we have not, until today, had a single location that reflects the history of duty, and sacrifice, of our regiment. Today we have put that right.
Based in the heart of the regiment’s recruiting area, the memorial was designed by architect Stephen Oliver of Rodney Melville & Partners and features a stunning bronze centrepiece statue by the sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley. The plinth on which the statue stands is inscribed with The Royal Anglian Regiment cap badge, under which is carved:
IN MEMORY OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENT AND THE EAST ANGLIAN REGIMENTS WHO DIED WHILST ON DUTY”.
At the rear of the memorial enclosure and on either side of the plinth is the wall that forms the Roll of Honour. On it, inscribed under their respective cap badge, are the rank, initials, surname, decorations and date of death of the regiment’s 78 fallen.
The names are carved directly into the wall and there are ten columns of lettering each eight stones high, reflecting the ten counties from which the regiment recruits and the eight antecedent regiments from which it was formed. Whenever possible the materials used for the memorial were sourced from within the regimental area. The contractor and stonemason was Fairhaven & Woods Ltd of Bottisham, Cambridgeshire.
It was in 2007 that the idea for the memorial was born. 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, whilst fighting in Afghanistan, launched an appeal to raise money to support its wounded and their families and to build a memorial to the nine soldiers from the battalion who were killed in action during that tour.
Subsequently, it was decided that the memorial should commemorate the sacrifice of all soldiers from the regiment that had paid the ultimate sacrifice over the years and across the globe.
To pay for this, the three battalions of the regiment each raised considerable sums of money, much of which came from generous public donations that were strongly encouraged by the local press.
A separate fundraising appeal was also launched by the trustees of the regimental museum and approaches were made to local councils, the business community, charitable trusts, philanthropic societies, social and ex-Service clubs and prominent individuals. In addition, members of the regimental family and associations also donated.